I've been reading Tom's for a very long time, always dreaming of the day I could get my hands on some cool, cutting-edge hardware. Well, I finally have everything I need in life, and now can spend money on a decent build. You all know much more than I do about what appropriate hardware is, so I'm looking to the experts dwelling here for support Thanks ahead of time!
My Goal: I have a Sharp 37" LCD HDTV I grabbed last September, and I want to be able to use it as my monitor (using a wireless keyboard/mouse to sit on my couch and work/play). I'm going to be using the PC for productivity, entertainment (DVDs, maybe HDTV and Blu-ray at some point), and gaming. I'm really looking foward to playing Freespace 2 Open on a 37" screen with the sound system I've set up. :-D I'd also like the option to expand the system's capabilities at some point. I don't mind using Vista 64, as that means more RAM available.
Here's my current system. It doesn't work on my TV (something with the video card not being up to snuff for that), so I know that has to be replaced. I'd love to upgrade the box I have, but I'm willing to write it off in order to meet my goals:
• Built off a Compaq Presario S5000CL
Motherboard: Microstar MS-6390 Socket A/AGP 4X/3 PCI
CPU: AthlonXP 2600+ (2.133 Ghz, 266Mhz FSB)
Memory: 512 MB Bravo DDR 333 and 512 MB Infineon DDR 333
Hard Drive: Western Digital 80 GB 7200rpm IDE
Other Drives: Floppy Drive and Lite-on DVD-RW/CD-RW IDE
Sound: Soundblaster Audigy PCI
Graphics: ATI Radeon 9800 Pro 256 MB DDR
Power Supply: Smartpower 350W
I'm thinking you will want a dual core Intel build with perhaps a G45 board.. even though you'll be using a PCI-E graphics card.
For this sort of thing you should actually decide on a case early on. Do you want some smaller HTPC case that will fit in with your other equipment, or do you want a full size case?
I should add... Compaq Presario case might be nice looking and might meet ATX standards, but I think you are going to want more cooling.
Thanks for the comments!
I've perused your guide.... good information, but I wasn't sure which parts fit best toward reaching my goals. I spent about an hour in Comp USA today looking at their wall of motherboards, processors, memory, and graphics cards, and came out more confused than when I got in. The P45 boards looked quite nice, though... EVGA 780i and XFX 780i both had lots of slots.
I had to google HTPC to see what it meant I'll probably do a full sized case, since I've got a spot for it. I definetely think I should ditch the old Presario case... it only has a spot for one 120 mm fan.
So far, I've got the following... are there any specific component reccomendations?
Case: Something full-sized Motherboard: A P45 board... I saw 780i and 790i at the store, I assume the difference is minimal? CPU: Intel dual core Memory: ?? GB DDR2 Hard Drive: SATA? Other Drives: Floppy Drive and Lite-on DVD-RW/CD-RW IDE (I assume this can stay the same?) Graphics: PCI-Express. I want something that can push a great picture to a 37" screen. I don't know what the card needs to have to do this... Power Supply: No clue. Something 1000W? I used to buy cheap PS, until I blew 3 systems in a row. Now I only look at Antec, Thermaltake, and Ultra.
CPU: E8500 Good speed. Stick with the stock cooler for quiet, or upgrade the cooler and overclock it. Up to you.
PSU: PC P&C 750W
Less because it's red, you can change the color but you might pay a bit more.
GPU: Sapphire 4870 1GB
A well cooled card that will drive that TV. You will need to manually adjust the fan speed, as stock settings are far too aggressive and will sound like a hair dryer. You will have the option of adding a second card just like this if you ever feel the need.
Thanks again! That helped alot... I was going for a 650W power supply combo with an Antec 300 case, but I realize that may be too small for the Sapphire (which caught my eye as being only $40 away from the XFX 4850, but a considerable performance jump).
Finally, out of the dark ages I made some changes from your reccomendations (notably CPU, as I don't need tons of Ghz out of the box since OCing is a possibility). If anyone sees anything that doesn't make sense here, let me know. Thanks!
You have trimmed it down nicely without sacrificing too much performance.
There are times when my E8400 @ 3.6Ghz DOES make a big difference in gaming. Massive battles in Warhammer Online were a good example. People with the same video cards but Q6600s could not keep up with me.
Still, with a good cooler you can push that CPU pretty well.
My suggestion is to get these (you should tweak for what ever your preference) and what is my build is:
thermaltake lan box lite (no window), if window get modular power supply. This case doesn't even look like a computer. It looks more like a stereo component.
corsair ps, if modular something cheaper
biostar or gigabyte 780g (micro atx, no sidebar)
amd cpu @ 45w or 65w, power is your preference (if higher make sure that power is supported by MB i.e. 140w specs)
low profile heatsink/fan
sappire 4830 (of course 4850 or 4870 is better for gaming) the north bridge of these MBs support blu-ray
Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD3200AAKS 320GB or the 640GB black (I have on my gaming rig) the 320 is a single platter w/ 16mb the 640 is 2 platters w/ 32mb.
corsair memorary 800 or 1066. dependent on cpu. Try to choose the lowest voltage.
LG dvd reader/writer usually comes with DVD player and burner software
Lite-on blu-ray player comes with blu-ray software. Make sure to upgrade the software. Only 2.1 sound is supported.
Thanks again for the help! I found some similar builds on ebay, and managed to win one. However, it has a quad core processor (not exactly what I was going for, but OK nonetheless...). I'll list what I bought (for $600... was that a good deal?), and then what I'm thinking about swapping out with the money I (hopefully) saved.
What I bought:
Case:Antec P182 Gun Metal Motherboard:ASUS P5N-EM HDMI CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 2.4Ghz Memory: OCZ Platinum 4GB DDR2-800 Hard Drive: Unknown make 2x250GB SATA in RAID 0 Other Drives: LG 22X DVD-R/CD-R SATA Graphics: ASUS EAH4870 1GB Power Supply:Corsair CMPSU-650TX OS: Windows 64-bit Ultimate
What I'm going to change (~$400 budget for immediate expansion)
Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-EP45-UD3P (The ASUS leaves no room to grow) Other Drives: LG Black 6X Blu-ray DVD-ROM 16X DVD-ROM 40X CD-ROM SATA (More expensive, but does nearly *everything*)
Should I change (upgrade) the processor as well, or just get a great CPU cooler and OC it? Any thoughts on this or any other aspects of this build?
Get a Antec 300 instead since their half the price and the same size.
My guess is that if you're building it as a HTPC you'll want an Akasa Nero instead of the fan inside it now, it'll be quite a bit quieter and give you better cooling. They also cost less than most fans in it's performance range.